Oil & Gas

Offshore workers ‘resolute’ as new strikes begin on Repsol Sinopec, BP assets

Unite says its members will stick to their guns as a new round of work stoppages commence on North Sea assets, in what the union has called an “increasingly bitter dispute” over pay and conditions.

More than 220 Petrofac workers are carrying out strikes for 48 hours, as of 6am on Thursday 8 December, the union confirmed, on BP and Repsol Sinopec platforms.

146 members working for Petrofac (LON:PFC) are expected to begin strike action on Repsol Sinopec Resources UK (RSRUK) assets – their second action in several weeks – after workers rejected a 3% pay offer and sought the reinstatement of a 10% equal time payment, alongside other benefits.

In a separate dispute, 76 members working on behalf of Petrofac at BP installations including Andrew, Clair, Clair Ridge, ETAP and Glen Lyon will also begin strike action on the same date.

This dispute centres on workers having to continue a three week on, three week off (3/3) rotation offshore, which has been described as “hated” by the workforce.

Unite has also claimed that workers were forced to waive an increase in wages associated with longer working hours when the rota pattern was implemented in 2015.

A Petrofac spokesperson previously said the firm was “committed” to ensuring workers leave time “provides adequate rest and recuperation” and said believed it can bring the dispute to “a prompt conclusion.”

Thursday’s strikes follow another 48-hour work stoppage on RSRUK assets on 16 November, involving crews on the Arbroath, Auk, Bleo Holm, Claymore, Clyde, Fulmar, Montrose, Piper, Saltire, Tartan and the Flotta oil terminal on Orkney.

This involved a range of trades from mechanics and electricians to safety technicians, pipe fitters and deck crew, as part of what the union called “an ongoing, and increasingly bitter dispute over pay and working terms.”

Unite has said that strikes at BP and Repsol Sinopec assets are likely to cause “considerable disruption”, though RSRUK has previously said production will not be affected.

In an earlier statement, BP said its “focus remains on the safety of our workforce and operations offshore.”

‘Greedy and callous’

Commenting on Thursday morning, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Offshore oil and gas companies are making eye-watering profits yet are playing Scrooge when it comes to the workers that create those profits. Instead of working to resolve this dispute management are prolonging it.

“Their actions are those of a greedy and callous employer hell-bent on making their workers worse off while their shareholders bathe in the wealth created by my members. Unite supports, and will continue to support our members at Petrofac for as long as it takes for them to achieve a resolution.”

Unite industrial officer John Boland, on behalf of the workforce added: “Our members have faced a real terms pay cut and an attack on their working terms over years as a result of them taking Petrofac’s word that they would do the right thing.

“The workers involved in these disputes are resolute in their determination to continue with ongoing action until their claims are met. Petrofac can not only afford to pay up and settle this dispute, they should do so now in order that workers on these installations can get on with the job.”

The strikes are the latest in a wave of North Sea industrial action throughout this year, as record energy profits and spiralling living costs foemnt further discontent amongst the offshore and onshore workforce.

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